Digging in for pipeline fight

B.C.'s attorney general is threatening to sue if a new law introduced in Alberta causes gasoline prices to skyrocket.

David Eby says it's unconstitutional for one province to use energy policy to punish another province, and B.C. is prepared to take legal action against Alberta.

The Alberta government introduced legislation that would allow for the restriction of oil, gasoline and natural gas leaving that province, which could cause fuel prices in B.C. to jump.

Eby's comments come as those for and against the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion dig in, including Indigenous Peoples, business leaders, protesters and politicians.

Pipeline owner, Kinder Morgan, has suspended all non-essential spending on the $7.4 billion project as the federal government tries to reassure the company's investors by May 31 that the project will move forward despite opposition from the B.C. government.

Meanwhile, the B.C. government is denying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claim that it has been mum on how Ottawa should reinforce environmental protections — and offering as proof a detailed list of six demands it says were provided to the federal government in February.

The list of items was provided to the federal Liberals right after B.C. warned it was considering whether to restrict the flow of diluted bitumen into the province should the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion be allowed to proceed, an official told The Canadian Press. They include:

  • Ensuring enough emergency tow vessels in response to increased tanker traffic off the B.C. coast.
  • Specific plans to respond in the event of an environmental incident related to the pipeline.
  • Improvements to make the pipeline itself safer.
  • A compensation plan in the event of a spill causing the loss of public use of a marine environment.
  • Improved research into the behaviour and cleanup of spilled diluted bitumen.
  • Weaning marine coastal communities off diesel-fuelled electricity.

On Sunday, following a meeting with the premiers of B.C. and Alberta over the Trans Mountain impasse, Trudeau said he was open to making additional investments and improvements in environmental protections. But since the NDP government was elected in B.C. last summer, it has "not specifically put forward proposals on how they would like to see us improve the Oceans Protection Plan," he said.

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman wouldn't accuse Trudeau of lying outright.

"What I'm saying is we've been engaged with the federal government, there's been ongoing discussion and we've raised a number of issues," Heyman said. "We've indicated to them the kinds of things we think would be helpful to prevent contamination of the coast line from a spill and a variety of hazardous products."

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